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Skills Every Backpacker Should Know

Top Skills Every Backpacker Should Know:

1. Navigate with Map and Compass

This one is pretty straightforward. You are going to put yourself far away from road signs and cell phone reception for Google Maps, which is right where you want to be. So, you should know how to find your way back home without technology.

2. Find and purify water in the backcountry

A human being can only survive about 3 days or less. This means water is always a top priority. Know how to find it, filter, boil, or treat it, and you’ll be a happy camper.

3. Create a shelter without a tent

As reliable as many tents may be, everything is prone to failure given the right (or wrong) conditions. It’s always a good idea to be able to use the materials you have around you - everything from a tarp and rope to natural materials - to build a temporary shelter from the elements. It can save your life.

4. Build a campfire

This one seems obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t know how to properly build a fire. This is truly an essential skill for backcountry travel. Take a look at our recent blog post to get started with fire building.

5. Treat a snakebite

Don’t get bitten by snakes. But, if you do, you should also know how to treat it. Poisonous snakes occur in many places where backpackers tread, and there’s always a small chance of an unfortunate encounter. Make sure you know what to do.

6. Perform CPR, the Heimlich Maneuver, and first aid

Help is not 2 minutes away in the backcountry. In the event of a medical emergency, you must know how to take care of yourself and those in your group.

7. Take a stunning photo

For those of you who know us, you know we love to come back from our trips with two things: memories and photographs. Doing a little learning and practicing will go a long way towards capturing a photo you will proudly display for decades to come. Check out our blog post on photography here.

8. Tie a bowline and other knots

Whether you are just hanging a bear bag or rock climbing, you should know how to tie a proper knot for your given situation and task.

9. Stay dry in the rain

Just because everything else is wet doesn’t mean you have to be. With some practice and attention to detail, you can stay dry and comfortable in even the wettest conditions. It goes a long way towards making your trip more enjoyable. Tip: In your pack keep wet items with wet items and dry items with dry items, preferably sealed in waterproof stuff sacks.

10. Respond appropriately to wildlife encounters

What do you do if you see a bear on the trail? How close can you get to that elk? You should understand how to respond to wildlife encounters in a responsible, safe way before going into the backcountry. Many parks and protected areas have strict rules about wildlife. Remember to NEVER feed any wildlife and keep your distance. Do your research and be prepared.

And finally…

11. Tell a great story

One of the great aspects of backpacking is the escape from TV, computers, and phones. When we are out in the backcountry we get our entertainment the old fashioned way: telling stories around a campfire. Being able to tell a great story or two is an excellent skill to have.

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